Once you enter your 20s, it’s time to start being a full-fledged adult and making decisions that set you up for future success. This time in your life is going to involve focusing on your education and then career and achieving major life milestones. Far too many people make major financial mistakes, especially when they’re younger. These missteps end up costing them hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. Instead of letting yourself fall victim to these mistakes, take steps to set and achieve solid financial goals for yourself while you’re in your 20s. You’ll thank yourself later.
Very few people ever receive a formal education on personal finance. It’s rare that parents talk to their children about personal finance, which means it’s up to us to teach ourselves the basics. Instead of learning as you go along, set aside time to actually research personal finance advice and learn what you should do to set yourself up for success. There are great resources out there, such as blogs as videos that can teach you anything you want to know.
Create a budget
While I’m sure this is something you’ve heard countless times before, it’s worth repeating. Creating a budget is one of the best steps you can take to get your finances in order. You might not think you’re wasting money or sabotaging your other goals, but it’s likely that you’re not perfect with your spending habits. A budget helps you realistically look at where your money is going and what you can do about it. The more aware you are, the better.
Start saving for retirement
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. Open up a Roth IRA, even when you’re in college, and put away any extra money you can. If your company offers a 401(k), start contributing to this account as well, especially if your employer has a company match.
Build an emergency fund
Building an emergency fund is great way to protect yourself from going into debt over unexpected costs. If you have a medical emergency, need to get car repair done, or have another unexpected bill, the last thing you want to do is put that expense on a high-interest credit card. Having at least $1,000 in an emergency fund helps you prepare for emergencies that could wreak havoc on your finances.
Pay off your debt
In your 20s, focusing on aggressively paying off debt sets you up for long-term success. Paying off any credit cards you may have helps save you money. If you’re able, pay more than the minimum on student loans in order to pay them off as quickly as possible. You’ll save money in interest and have one less bill each month.
Shop around for deals
For expenses like a phone bill, car insurance, or utility companies, it pays to shop around. Find out the rates from other companies and attempt to negotiate with your current company. Sometimes you’ll be able to push down the cost of something through negotiation, but even if you can’t, there’s likely another business out there that can get you the same service for less.
Get a side hustle
Finally, while it’s important to work on managing the money you do have, it’s always good to look for ways to increase your income. Cultivating a skill that you can use in addition to your regular job is a great idea and could leave to a lucrative side hustle. You have greater financial security in case you’d lose your job and you have more money coming in to help cover bills.